Tuesday, March 01, 2005

An ominous tragedy

Following up on last night's report of the horrifying murders of family members of a judge who had been previously targeted by white supremacists, it's clear that authorities are working hard to track this one down. formed a task force to look into the case.

Most of the details that have emerged so far -- they were killed by multiple gunshot wounds in the basement of their home -- have not given any clue that the killings were payback for the conviction of white supremacist Matthew Hale for soliciting Lefkow's murder, but the circumstances certainly point in that direction.

Chicago Tribune reporter Eric Zorn hits the notes just about right at his blog:
Tempting though it is, I’m not going to leap to the conclusion that Monday's murder of U.S. Judge Joan H. Lefkow's husband and mother in her family's North Side home was an act of revenge against Judge Lefkow for her role in white supremacist Matthew Hale's legal troubles.

At this writing I know of no evidence that links Hale's followers to the horrifying crime other than that he was convicted in April of soliciting Lefkow's murder.

While that fact plainly raises suspicion, it's important for observers and police alike to remain open to the possibility that Michael F. Lefkow and Donna Humphrey were the victims of a random home invasion gone bad, a grudge killing unrelated to Judge Lefkow's work or even a grudge killing related to her work on a different case.

That said, however, these murders, if they turn out to have been committed by white supremacists loyal to or working for Matthew Hale, would be among the most ominous in the recent history of this nation.

We have more than our share of mayhem here —- random, predatory, twisted, senseless. But assassinations of public authority figures or, even worse, their relatives, have been mostly a third-world phenomenon for nearly a quarter of a century.

Meanwhile, some of the speculation from white supremacists about the killings is well worth noting:
White supremacist discussion forums on the Internet are abuzz today with the news that the husband and mother of a federal judge have been slain.

Posters debated whether the shooting deaths of 64-year-old Michael Lefkow and 89-year-old Donna Humphrey are good or bad for their movement.

Some posts predict a crackdown on the white nationalist groups. Others theorize the slayings were the work of federal agents who want a severe sentence for white supremacist Matthew Hale.

They never miss a chance, do they?

[Hat tip to David Finley for the WQAD link.]

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